Once again, the season of Lent is upon us. It is a time for reflection on our place in God’s world, and in our own world. There are many ways to embark upon a fast, and many things we can give up. But instead of saying “no” to temptations around us, this year I encourage you to say “yes” to something else. I ask you to say yes to making our world a better place. I have jotted down a few ideas about some things each of us can say “yes” to. The list is by no means exhaustive, but I do hope it provides you with some food for thought.
Say “Yes” to Community: It seems that the modern world is isolating us from each other, to focus only on ourselves. And the steps are so small. So insidious. Moving away from family for a job; not meeting friends because of other commitments; sitting alone at our desks at lunch; staying late at work; skipping church to catch up on sleep. These actions are not bad in and of themselves, but each one strips love and companionship from our lives. For me, living only for ourselves is not what being a Christian is about. To me, Christian life is about community, both locally and internationally. That’s why our family attends St. Mark’s – the sense of helping those around us, both seen and unseen. A community living to the glory of God.
Say “Yes” to Global Justice: I read recently that environmental problems are hard for people to psychologically and emotionally to get behind and try to help. We are much more likely to offer help to another human being, such as a miner trapped in a cave-in, or an orphan looking for a home. We can put a face to these needs, and this suffering. We can offer assistance and immediately feel better about ourselves. But taking care of the planet has no human face. Driving a little less, or bringing our own re-usable bags to the store brings no immediate gratification. But each small step does make a difference. Those who are least able to afford to move, or change livelihoods, will be most affected by climate change. So doing our part here is also doing our part for global justice.
Say “Yes” to a Cleaner World: One of the ways we can embrace our call to be stewards of the earth is to look for opportunities to be environmentally friendly, and encourage sustainability. Local news noted that there were 92 million pieces of litter in Newfoundland, or 170 pieces per person. So there’s no shortage of opportunity to help clean up. We can pick up garbage on hikes. We can drive as little as possible, combining errands whenever we can. We can choose organic or local foods when we can, and packaging that is biodegradable or re-usable. For your next vehicle, consider getting a hybrid or electric model.
Say “Yes” to a New Habit: If you are unsure where to begin, there are a ton of websites that can give you ideas. Just search under “how to live greener.” Perhaps start with something that might be a little awkward at first, but easily can grow into a habit. For example, bringing your own bags to the grocery store. I must admit it was decidedly annoying the first few times I forgot to bring my own bags and I didn’t allow myself to use grocery store bags (more motivation to remember next time). So it did require occasional juggling, but once bringing your own bags is a habit, it is one that requires no thought or effort.
Say “Yes” to Being Better Informed: As a church community we will be showing “An Inconvenient Sequel,” a movie on the urgency for environmental action. The movie will be played on Earth Day, April 22, at 7:30PM. Please come out and find out a little more about the science behind climate change, and the importance of taking action sooner, not later.
No single action will change the world, but each journey is made up of series of small steps. I wrote down a few ideas to get you started, and would be grateful for any suggestions you might like to make, or things that you are doing to make a difference. Thank you.
Richard is a member of vestry at St. Mark’s with a special focus on creation care. He and his wife Hanna attend our 10:30 am worship on Sunday with their three young children.